“Can you stand?” She asked him. “We need to get out of here. We only have a limited amount of time.”

“How are we going to find the others,” he asked her as he let her help him to his feet.

“They’re right here,” she pointed to the other males around them, now being attended to by their mates.

Costin’s eyes widened as he saw how close he had been to Decebel, Adam, Fane, Vasile, Gavril, Sorin, and Drake. It had only been mere feet between them.

“They’d been right here all along?” He looked on as the other males began to stand to their feet and the same realization hit them.

Decebel’s wolf was so close to taking over. He was fighting it, but he didn’t think he could watch his mate scream for another second. He was on the verge of phasing when he felt a warm hand caress his neck.

“Dec,” the voice was small, hesitant, not anything, like he was used to hearing from her. He looked up and his eyes met his mate’s. She wasn’t screaming or writhing in pain. She wasn’t swollen with their baby, and she wasn’t bleeding in childbirth. She was whole, healthy, and beautiful, standing before him. She knelt down in front of him and tilted her head to the side. A low growl rumbled up from his chest as he saw his bite mark on her neck. He reached for her and she willingly went into his arms. He closed his eyes and ran his nose along her jaw line and down behind her ear.

“Mine,” he told her as he pulled her closer.

“Yes, I’m yours,” she agreed.

Decebel waited, dreading the moment when she would be ripped from his arms and he would have to watch all over again as their baby died, or his mate was raped, or tortured by an unnamed foe. He held her tighter, praying that it would be over, that he wouldn’t have to live through any of it any longer.

“Baby,” Jen groaned, “kind of squeezing too tight.”

Decebel loosened his hold a little and when she started to squirm, he let out a growl.

“Not yet,” he snarled. “I’m not ready to lose you again. Please just one more minute, let me hold you, please Jennifer.”

Jen stilled her movements as she heard the pain in his voice. She realized that he didn’t know she was really here. He thought she was still just his imagination and that he was going to have to watch those horrible things she had seen in his mind.

“Decebel, it’s really me.” She put both her hands on his face and held him away so he had to look her in the eyes. “I’m real. I’m not going to be tortured or raped. I’m here to get you out of this hellhole.”

He continued to stare at her and Jen could see that he was trying to decide what to believe. She could see that he wanted to have hope, to believe that it was her. But, he was so scared that it was an illusion, a cruel trick by Desdemona.

She leaned forward slowly so as not to startle him and pressed her lips to his. Jen meant for it to be a small kiss, just to reassure him, but it had been so long and he smelled so, so good. She ran her tongue along the seam of his lips and when he groaned she smiled victoriously as his lips parted and he deepened the kiss. Jen wrapped her arms around his neck and let him pull her against him. She didn’t want to stop, didn’t want to put even an inch of space between them, but they needed to hurry. She pulled back and looked at him. She patted his face and smiled. “You with me?”

“It’s really you? You’re really here?” Decebel asked, as he gripped her hair in one hand and pulled her closer to him with the other.

“Look around babe,” Jen told him.

Decebel slowly turned his head and his eyes widened as he saw the others. He stood abruptly, still holding Jen in his arms. She was really here with him.

“Decebel, put me down,” Jen told him as she patted his shoulder.

Decebel shook his head. “No. If I put you, down it might not be real and I’m not ready to face that. I can’t lose you. I can’t watch you hurt any longer.”

“I’m real baby,” she pulled his face to look at her. “I’m real and I’m not going anywhere.”

He nodded. “Okay, if you’re not going anywhere then there’s no reason I can’t hold you.”

Jen rolled her eyes. “Fine, hold me. Wear yourself out lugging my fat pregnant butt around, see if I care.”

“Glad we’re on the same page,” Decebel told her and pulled her tighter to him.

“You’re really not going to put me down are you?” She asked him after several moments.

Decebel shook his head as he continued to watch the others pull themselves together, gradually realizing one by one that their mates had come. They had said they would, and now they were here, to take them back from the grips of hell.

“Fane, please look at me.” Jacque pleaded with her mate. He was kneeling on the ground while low growls emitted from him. His body shook under her hands as she gently rubbed his back. His sweat soaked shirt stuck to him and Jacque tried to give him some relief by pulling the shirt away from his skin.

“Fane, dammit, I said look at me,” Jacque snarled.

Fane’s head rose slightly at the command in her voice and his lip showed sharp white fangs. His eyes glowed blue and Jacque saw that Fane’s wolf was very close to the surface. Seizing the opportunity, she grabbed his face while it was upturned and held his stare.

“Fane, it’s me, Jacquelyn.”

Fane’s eyes narrowed and he took a deep breath, leaning closer to her to catch her scent. Cotton candy and snow hit his senses and nearly knocked him over. He howled loudly and the others joined in with him.

“Mate,” his voice was guttural as he spoke. He reached up and caressed her face longingly. When he ran a finger along her lips Jacque opened her mouth and nipped his finger playfully with her teeth. As he started to reach for her, a voice behind him had him jumping to his feet, shoving Jacque behind him as he snarled.

Peri stood with her hands in the air as she looked at Fane.

“Peace, Fane, I mean no harm,” she told him, calmly.

Fane looked at her, and then for the first time noticed all the commotion going on around him. He backed up further, pushing Jacque back until her back hit the wall. His wolf was urging him to protect her, to keep anyone from coming near her and hurting her. His eyes shifted wildly from person to person, all of them a possible threat to what was his.

“His wolf is in control,” a deep voice came from the left.

Tags: Quinn Loftis The Grey Wolves Young Adult
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